Drawer lock bit plywood tear out

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Forum topic by Emmet posted 04-30-2017 08:06 PM 2035 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 1003 days

04-30-2017 08:06 PM

This is my first posting so forgive me is this is the wrong place to post. I plan to build some drawers from 1/2” BB plywood. I have one of the 2” diameter drawer lock bits from a reputable company. I quickly realized the drawer sides are routed across the surface ply grain and creates a lot of tear out. Before attempting this I watched several videos and read reviews. I don’t recall anyone addressing or having the tear out problem. Am I doing something wrong. This looks like it has to be a common problem with limited solutions. Scoring with an X-acto knife seems like a viable solution with some careful measurements. I have to believe there is got to be a better way. Thanks for any input.

9 replies so far

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13027 posts in 2991 days

#1 posted 04-30-2017 09:00 PM

If by chance it’s the inexpensive red oak plywood from the big box stores you will never prevent tearout. But otherwise you could try blue tape over the area to be routed.

-- Rick M,

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4 posts in 1003 days

#2 posted 04-30-2017 09:04 PM

The plywood is 5’x5’ Baltic Birch from a local lumber mill.

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13027 posts in 2991 days

#3 posted 04-30-2017 10:03 PM

Sorry, I missed “BB” in the OP.

Are you using a pushblock that will support the endgrain?

Can you make a zero clearance fence for this bit so the face grain is supported all the way across?

-- Rick M,

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4259 days

#4 posted 04-30-2017 10:53 PM

I use a zero clearance fence on the router
table and a push block that gets the profile
cut on the first pass. I’ve found that pretty
much eliminated tear-out with drawer lock
and rabbet cuts.

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4 posts in 1003 days

#5 posted 04-30-2017 11:29 PM

I have a good push block, kind of an off set L shape. I saw this being used on a Shop Notes video. I’m also using feather boards to hold it tight against the fence. My fence is a two piece split design. So here is a novice question. I can picture a sacrificial fence being used to create a zero clearance. But its not clear to me on how one makes the router bit profile cut into the fence. Do you do this with the router bit spinning and ease the fence back toward the bit? I’ve seen people make a zero clearance table saw insert, but not one for a router bit.

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4 posts in 1003 days

#6 posted 04-30-2017 11:39 PM

I just found a great video addressing this very issue and how to slide the lead fence into the router bit to create the zero clearance. The video was on

View JBrow's profile


1368 posts in 1531 days

#7 posted 05-01-2017 01:26 AM


I experience less tear out when cutting plywood with the face grain as opposed to across the grain. Therefore, there may be less tear out routing the locking mitred joints if the draw box sides are oriented so that the plywood face grain of the finished boxes runs vertically, rather than horizontally. Of course the finished drawer boxes would look different from most drawer boxes that I have seen. Also, if you plan to rout a slight round over along the top edges of the drawer box, you would back to dealing with tear out.

View Robert's profile


3607 posts in 2092 days

#8 posted 05-01-2017 05:46 PM

Any kind of joinery in plywood is a challenge.

Rather than a lock miter, I would suggest a simple rabbet with dowels.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View AlanWS's profile


22 posts in 4170 days

#9 posted 05-05-2017 06:33 PM

You are right that scoring the edge before routing will help a lot. But rather than using a knife and a straightedge, using a cutting gauge makes it easier to quickly cut at a set distance from the edge. And it’s a useful tool for other woodworking tasks.

-- Alan in Wisconsin

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